federal budget

Trump to Propose Cuts to Safety Net Once Again

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Monday, President Trump will reveal his budget proposal for the federal government in 2021, a document that is ultimately more like a wish list than a final plan, due to significant back-and-forth with lawmakers before final approval. In this latest spending plan, the administration, according to a New York Times report, recommends $2 trillion in cuts over the next decade from the mandatory spending programs that make up the social safety net.

Most notably, the $4.8 trillion proposal for fiscal year 2021 reportedly slashes $130 billion from Medicare prescription-drug pricing, cuts $70 billion by tightening eligibility for federal disability benefits, as well as $292 billion from other social programs, including an increase in the work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps. Such proposals would seem to contradict the president’s promises that his administration would protect safety net programs popular among his supporters.

“We will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security,” Trump said last week at the State of the Union. In addition to targeting Medicare prescription-drug pricing, the budget also intends to cut the Social Security Disability Insurance program that provides benefits to disabled members of the workforce; last year, the administration recommended a $10 billion cut to the program. Shortly after reports on the budget emerged, Trump doled out some low-effort PR management to save face:

Like his 2020 fiscal proposal, Trump intends to increase military spending — this year by .3 percent, to $740.5 billion. Perhaps most notable among the additions in 2021 is the 12 percent increase in funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The boost represents a major change for NASA under Trump — in his first fiscal proposal year, the administration recommended cuts of $560 million — as the president hopes to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024. Perhaps the most brazen cut — though consistent with the administration’s overall gutting of environmental regulation — is the goal to reduce the Environmental Protection Agency’s spending by 26 percent.

As New York’s Sarah Jones noted last time around, the proposal to cut popular programs “sets up a costly political battle for Republicans, who will have to convince voters, again, that they’re motivated by something other than pure animus for the poor. They’ll have a difficult time making themselves heard over the president’s budget, which whittles down some of the most popular entitlement programs in the country partly to secure funding for his border fence.” Little has changed in the new year: The 2021 budget proposes an additional $2 billion in federal funding for the wall, which would bring the total taxpayer cost of the barrier to $20.4 billion, with only 100 miles of the structure completed since Trump took office.

Trump to Propose Cuts to Safety Net Once Again